True Life: Why Briana Said Yes To Going Tiny

Two years ago, I was living in a brand-new house.  My thoughts were always consumed with ways to decorate said house.  Ways to fill space and to make it something I could be proud of when entertaining guests.  It was never enough for me.  How could I turn this into something that everyone else would want?  Inspired by others in my life who were devoting themselves to the Lord, I began boldly praying differently (this is dangerous, folks).  That’s when the Holy Spirit started to change my desires and turn my world upside down.

One of the biggest questions I get as John-Mark’s wife is, why did you say yes to this life?  The answer is, this wasn’t just John-Mark’s calling.  This was a calling God placed on our entire family. 

About two years ago, I began praying about what the Lord would have us do to serve Him better.  As I did this, I began to have the desire to have less.  Our friends (now missionaries in Africa) had recently downsized into the cutest little two-bedroom house.  I began to imagine us doing the same.  This became a really exciting idea for me.  So, when John-Mark came to me and said that he was feeling like we needed to rearrange our finances so we could give more I immediately asked if he felt like we needed to downsize the house.  At this point, several of our friends lived in older neighborhoods in Midland and were having so much fun redoing their houses.  The idea of doing the same and being even closer to them excited me so much!  There could definitely be some benefits to this downsizing thing.  Little did I know, the Lord would ask for something even bigger from me.

We listed our house on the market and began keeping an eye out for smaller, but still oh so cute homes in our city.  As we searched, our house got very little attention and no other houses really seemed right.  At this time, John-Mark continued to do consulting work to support our family.  {Ladies-if you stay home with your kids, be grateful for your husbands.  I can’t imagine the amount of weight they carry on their shoulders.  Supporting a family on your own is a lot of pressure.} One day John-Mark forwarded me a link to a post about a 4-month internship at Community First! Village.  I’ll be honest, I looked at the post but didn’t pay much attention to it.  Moving to Austin was NEVER in the plan for my life.  Every time I visited our family there, I was always anxious to get back to Midland. 

The fourth time, John-Mark mentioned the internship, I actually looked into it.  It was very clear that the program was designed more for single individuals coming out of college.  We would be required to live in a 200 sq.ft. tiny house with two twin beds.  It just seemed like it was not built for us- we had a 1 year old and two dogs after all.  But I finally gave in and told John-Mark to look into it.  The thought crossed my mind that Truma and I could always stay at John-Mark’s parents nearby lake house while he did the program.  (I promised to tell the truth, no matter how ridiculous!) John-Mark sent an email to the program director and, to my dismay, she asked to have a phone conversation the next day.  Our conversation with the program director brought a wave of fear over me.  As she was speaking about how they could tailor the program for our family, I remember having this knowledge that this was exactly what we were going to do.  Looking back, I now see that was the first real whisper of the Holy Spirit that our lives were about to change drastically.  I had conflicting emotions of overwhelming fear and peace.  I just knew we were going to be moving to Austin.  But I had no idea what that would mean for us long-term.

Living in a bumper-pull RV with a two-year old, a 7-month pregnant mama, two large dogs, and an ever-gracious husband is not always easy.  The dogs are always under our feet, our entire house is our child’s playroom, the 100 degree summer days make for very hot afternoons (even with air conditioning).  My prego belly rubs on the wall of the shower and I have to crouch beneath the little showerhead to wash my hair.  I miss a real toilet and a washer and dryer.  But you know what?  Even though our lifestyle is different, God has provided abundant living in a totally different way!  I do laundry once a week at my mother-in-law’s 67-degree house and occasionally will take a good, hot shower while Truma naps.  We have amazing friends that help get us out of the house during the week so we don’t go completely insane.  We have the sweetest neighbor (landlord) that allows us to love on the horses she boards and trains.  We have shelter, good food, hot water, and family nearby.  And best of all, we get to be missionaries to and advocates for people that we loved before we were called to this life, as well as new people we meet daily. 

The biggest blessing of this entire experience has been seeing my husband’s heart change.  When we met, he was a man who had been raised to lead and know all the right answers, but didn’t really know how good trusting our Lord could be.  For some odd reason, he was able to truly connect with the homeless, even though society would say that he should have absolutely nothing in common with them.  Our Father came and got John-Mark.  He turned him inside out, scraped off the wounds and blackness on his heart, and made him a completely different person.  Just when I thought I couldn’t love that man more, the Lord changed us both and created an even deeper bond.  John-Mark now fully immerses himself in the gospel, so much that he overflows with Christ’s love.  He still sins, like we all do… but anyone that knew him before couldn’t help but notice that he is a new man—a new man in Christ.  He leads our family just as boldly as he leads this organization.

Offering your life fully to the will of God WILL bring trouble; you can count on it.  The enemy will do everything in his power to break down your family, your heart, your motivation.  But praise God, He is bigger.  Our God provides joy when things seem impossible.  Our God lifts us up when the realities of this ministry weigh us down.  Our God eases our fears and gives us the strength we need to push forward.  He equips us to accomplish exactly what He calls us to.  He goes before us in a pillar of fire, we need only to trust and listen. 

This week has been another blessed one!  On Friday, Truma and I had the opportunity to ride along on the food truck with John-Mark again.  If you have been on the fence about volunteering, I encourage you to go.  You will not regret it!  John-Mark and I had the opportunity to take one of our dear homeless friends to lunch.  Afterward, John-Mark took him for a movie at Cinergy.  This particular friend spends a lot of time at the movie theater.  I have to brag on the Cinergy staff for a minute.  They know and care for this man well.  The staff greets him by name when he walks into the theater.  They know his usual order (a brownie sundae and a large Dr. Pepper) and serve him without judgement.  This man just happens to be a decorated veteran, but the employees at Cinergy don’t know that.  They show him love and make him feel welcome at their business.  It warms my heart to see that in our city.  Friday night, John-Mark and I had the privilege to go on a kid-free date night.  Spending time alone together was so refreshing and much needed.  John-Mark had a chance to take a couple of partners in homeless ministry on a breakfast run this week.  These people serve our homeless and families in need face-to-face on a daily basis, but still were so blessed by the opportunity to ride along and serve people where they are.  We were also blessed with the opportunity to engage in a discussion with some leaders in our church about how to make the church a more welcoming place for families of children with special needs.  It was a pleasure to be included in this conversation and we look forward to being a part of helping special needs families feel welcome in our church and providing opportunities for them to minister to others.

Someone lives there. 

Someone lives there. 

This week we are excited to go back to Community First! for the first time since our departure at the beginning of May.  Truma is excited to see her friends (she has been listing people by name), and we are excited to show some of the members of our Strategic Direction Committee the village in person.  The culture there is the greatest part and that is something you have to experience first-hand to truly understand. 


Prayer requests:

·      Safe travels for The Field’s Edge Committee members as they go to visit Community First! In Austin

·      A formerly homeless family we are close to is being forced to move.  Please pray for provision for a new place to stay.  This is a grandmother and her 5 grandchildren that she is tasked with caring for.

·      Adoption mercies for friends.

·      Land – we are so ready to start lifting our friends off the streets PERMANENTLY!